Aged care is not normally a sector that you would pick for advanced digital transformation. Yet the aged care sector is one of the biggest opportunities for new technology, to give ageing persons a better standard of living.
One in seven Australians are aged sixty or over, meaning the ageing generation are quickly becoming a major portion of society. Aged care needs improved technology to meet this need and provide security, stability and mental stimulation. This technology is not intended to remove human interaction, but rather improve and assist it.
As PWC point out, we should “never lose sight of the fact that technology best supports human capabilities, rather than replaces them, and that compassion, intuition and emotional intelligence will remain pillars of true healthcare.”
The technology is intended to support social interaction – not replace it.
Here’s four technologies that will change the aged care industry.
The Internet of Things
The Internet of Things poses one of the biggest opportunities for aged care. And it’s already here.
Smart sensors are the future – and they provide assured safety and monitoring for aged care without invasiveness. These can be sensors in beds or floors, or even wearable technology such as smart watches. Companies such as Intelicare are already bringing smart technology into homes.
IoT provides ageing persons with the assuredness of knowing that they are safe in the long term and that their loved ones, carers or medical personnel will be notified and take appropriate action when they have an incident such as a fall or illness.
Blockchain technology allows patients the security of transparency.
While IoT devices such as RFID sensors can pick up on accidents, illness or other incidents, this data can be tampered with or simply removed. Data on the blockchain is immutable and permanent, meaning that it cannot be removed or changed once it’s there. This guarantees that the data is transparent and as it was when originally recorded.
In addition, this information can be shared with a select group of people who have been given explicit permission.
Soon, AI will be everywhere. To some extent, it already is: in Google, Alexa and Siri, even in Facebook’s algorithm. While it isn’t quite at the stage of human intelligence, artificial intelligence is still dominating the technology sector – and it will, and already has, overtaken the aged care sector, too.
AI will provide a way for ageing persons to both maintain privacy and have control over their own health. The AI component in aged care identifies anomalies in the data. It can identify when there are issues or abnormalities in elderly health and provide notifications to both relatives and medical assistance.
In some cases, AI could also be used to diagnose basic medical conditions and give guidance and advice. This allows medical professionals to put more time into patients with serious health conditions.
Virtual Reality (VR)
Virtual reality is particularly popular with the younger generation, yet it actually has significant potential within aged care. Often, the elderly have injuries or illnesses that prevent them from doing things they enjoy. VR can allow them to do these things, but from the comfort of their own living room.
There may be some activities that an elderly person wanted to do or places they wanted to visit but never could – and this can be largely replicated through the power of VR. There are also schemes where the elderly can have their driving evaluated and practice driving through the help of VR to ensure they retain independence for a longer period of time.
Samsung are also providing carers the opportunity to live a day in the shoes of an aged person with dementia through VR.
Technology is changing the way we live and the way we support the ageing generation. We must act now, though, to ensure safety and security for the future generations to come.
Blockhead Technologies is bringing blockchain into a variety of sectors, such as fleet, mining and supply chain management. To find out more, click here.